Ginger. Sporty. Scary. Posh. Baby.
Prior to 1996, that list of adjectives meant nothing. It was just a collection of words, vaguely British in origin—thanks to the inclusion of posh—but nothing worth knowing, let alone celebrating.
But once the Spice Girls arrived on the scene with the release of their debut single "Wannabe" on July 8 some 24 years ago, that all changed.
The song wouldn't make its way Stateside until January of 1997, but by then, its markedly pure pop—the antithesis of the decade's alt-rock reign—had already turned the five women who'd only come together after answering an advertisement in a local newspaper into global sensations. Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, Victoria Adams (not yet a Beckham), Melanie Brown and Melanie Chisholm, along with their feminist mantra of "Girl Power," were suddenly everywhere you looked.
Recorded in less than an hour with its iconic laugh intro and rapped bridge, "Wannabe" would go on to become not just the biggest-selling debut single of an all-female group, but the best-selling single from such a group of all-time. From there, the quintet would releases two of the three best-selling girl group albums of all-time worldwide, 1996's Spice (No. 1) and 1997's Spiceworld (No. 3), become a merchandising powerhouse, release a tongue-in-cheek cult classic film, and help usher in a second wave of British Invasion of the U.S.
Like most things that burn bright and fast, it wouldn't last. Halliwell's hasty departure from the group in 1998 to pursue a solo career brought the craze back down to Earth. The remaining quartet would try and keep things afloat, releasing one last album, Forever, in the fall of 2000. But the swerve into a more mature and musically relevant R&B sound wasn't enough to keep listeners interested. The group announced their indefinite hiatus in January 2001.
While our attention dwindled in those post-Ginger days, our fascination and obsession with the iconic group has remained as fervent as the first day the phrase "zig-a-zig-ah" entered our lexicon. It's what's allowed the Girls to mount not one, but two massively successful reunion tours over the years and kept us pining for the days when Girl Power conquered the globe.
In honor of the 24th anniversary of their debut single, let's take a look back at the time when the Spice Girls ruled the world!
Happy anniversary, ladies!